RTD Looking to End RockiesRide, Race for the Cure Service

Few people use these buses, and RTD says the resources to operate them will be better spent on other types of service.

Old RTD buses in front of Coors Field in 1995. Photo:  Steve Rinker/Flickr
Old RTD buses in front of Coors Field in 1995. Photo: Steve Rinker/Flickr

With an underfunded RTD struggling to balance its budget, the agency plans to end special bus service for Rockies games and the annual Race for the Cure. While losing the services may be tough on a few people, the fact is the special routes don’t provide good bang for the buck, and RTD can do more for riders by devoting resources to other services.

RockiesRide once served 23 park-and-rides, using 175 buses to shuttle Rockies fans to and from every home game. Now it takes riders between Coors Field and four park-and-rides in Thornton, Westminster, and Longmont for weekend games, as well as the annual fireworks games.

The service averages just 236 riders per game, and that’s not enough to justify it, Assistant General Manager of Bus Operations Bruce Abel told the RTD Board of Directors on Tuesday. “That ridership is still marginal at best,” Abel said.

The Rockies are also developing the surface parking lot where the bus loads and unloads passengers, which factored into the possible change. Fans can still take the 120X and LD/LX on weekdays and Saturdays, but the cuts means no bus service for those northern suburban areas on Sundays.

The end of RockiesRide frees up $108,000 a year for RTD. Or put another way, the agency was losing about $8 per trip. That might be worth it to help people get to work, but getting people to the ballpark isn’t a pressing social need.

Abel also recommended cutting special service for the annual Race for the Cure in September, which serves just under 400 passengers once a year at a cost of $16,800. Abel said RTD should only provide special service for events with at least 40,000 people attending (about 10,000 came to the race last year).

The cuts aren’t a done deal yet. The RTD Board will have to approve them after a public process.

Is this money a big deal? Not really, but if we’re being honest, lightly-used transit to special events shouldn’t be a high priority for RTD. If these resources can be redirected to service that more people will use, that’s what the agency should be doing.

  • Brian

    If instead of dedicated transit to Coors Field, additional capacity was added to primary trunk lines which serve Union Station and near Coors (FF, C, and E lines seem most susceptible) around the start and end times, I think that would be a better use as daily commuters would still get to utilize service instead of meeting multiple buses or trains where there is no additional capacity.

    • TakeFive

      Yeah, a lot of people already come by light rail. Longmont riders can access the FF in Boulder if they wish. Westminster can already access the B LIne. Once the N Line is open then that will serve the northern suburbs.

  • Bjorn

    Given the current staffing shortages, special services are most likely filled at overtime rates by operators picking up (or being voluntold to work) additional hours.

  • Bjorn’s comment is accurate. Furthermore, when games drag on and on, safety regulations may kick in and the special service operators may be unavailable to work their next regular assignment. Rox relief pitching failures have consequences the next day.

    Brian’s suggestions are already in use, although sometimes customers are reluctant to board unadvertised trains or extra cars behind the normal length of the train.

    One of the attractions of using regular service to the events is that one can stay downtown late after the game. There always are customers checking the time of the last trains. That’s caused RockiesRide customers to shift modes. The original RockiesRide served Mile High Stadium, which turns into an asphalt desert 45 minutes after a game ends.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/19c76d80be50709d4802e0c6a3591c46140593a5c40d56a2ce84c805e20878f5.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1725477c02cb8ca57c30bbc23a8d5451d2b1f56c25ae0b5321f956e6a23dfa71.jpg

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